Monday, 30 October 2017

Finally, It's Christmas (even if it's October)

Disclaimer: I'm a bad fan, and I'm not really into the whole Christmas songs thing. When I got the download, I gave it a spin and thought it was okay, but wasn't planning to listen to it again until maybe a couple of days before the Manchester show in December. But then Kelly wrote a #nerdingout thread and, well, the call of dissecting music was too strong to resist. So I've listened to it a few more times, and yes, Kelly made me do it.

Second Disclaimer: I only know a couple of the original songs anyway.

Santa Taylor in Milan, December 2013

1. Finally, It's Christmas - I loved this song anyway, from Christmas 2014, and the new, revamped version is great. I love the Beach Boys-like intro and I agree with Kelly that the drums solo is really cool. As a live song, Hanson played it at the Mexico BTTI in 2015 and I can testify that it sounded great.

2. Wonderful Christmas Time/Come On It's Christmas - I don't know about other countries but here in the U.K. in the run-up to Christmas you can't escape Paul McCartney's Wonderful Christmas Time. Personally, I find it one of the most annoying Christmas songs of all time, and I really dislike how Macca sings it. So I was pleasantly surprised with Hanson's version, which definitely improves on the original. Come On It's Christmas sounds a lot like something the Jackson Five would have recorded, which is why I'm not crazy about it but I think the medley works. Also, I agree with Kelly about how nice it is to hear Taylor sing in a lower register.

The most annoying Christmas song of all time?

3. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer - Cute. Obviously Hanson have used the opportunity with this album to make some music with their kids, and why not. In all honesty, I'd rather listen to the Hanson children than the Tulsa Orphanage Choir (i.e. the fans) that was shoe-horned into the Play EP, ruining some perfectly good songs.

4. Til New Year’s Night - I think this is Hanson’s answer to Run, Rudolph, Run - it’s classic good ol' rock’n’roll territory and a perfect Isaac lead. It’s going to be good fun live.

5. Please Come Home For Christmas - I agree with Kelly that Zac’s vocals are perfect. I’m going to enjoy to hear him belt it out at the forthcoming show.

6. Someday At Christmas - I don’t have much to say about this song other than Taylor’s vocals are perfect.

7. Joy To The Mountain - this is the best track in the entire album with killer harmonies and a gospel vibe. Maybe this is the only song from this album that I could listen to all year round.

8. Jingle Bells - more kids singing. Okay, moving along swiftly, but good work, Hanson kids.

9. Happy Christmas - Cute. It has a Beach Boys feel to it, which I like.

10. All I Want For Christmas - I really, really can’t stand this song. Never have, never will. But I do agree with Kelly that this version is a million times better than the version Hanson performed during a Livestream a few years ago, mostly because Taylor’s voice is on point here, unlike during that notorious performance.

"All I Want For Christmas" was performed during a 2014 Livestream

11. Winter Wonderland - one of the few Christmas songs I like, or at least used to like until it was forever ruined by football fans singing “Alan Shearer” (former England striker) to its tune during a World Cup several years ago. But I digress. I love how Zac sings it, there’s a real sense of holiday fun in the song that really works. And after Kelly pointed out the cool little Linus & Lucy homage (I didn’t know that tune), I can’t un-hear it - in a good way.

12. Blue Christmas - I didn’t know the original and I’m not an Elvis fan, and to me, all his songs sound the same. I don’t mind Taylor’s sultry, sexy tone here, if anything it makes the song less boring. Plus, sexy Taylor, who’s going to complain? Not me.

13. Peace on Earth - this really sounds like a trademark  Zac song. I really wanted to like it more but I’m a little underwhelmed - it’s a song with a big sound that seems to get lost in a very repetitive melody. However, the message is uplifting and I can only applaud Hanson for calling for world peace.

14. A Merry Little Christmas - well, well. This had to be good because A) this is one of my favourite Christmas songs of all time, B) I love the movie Meet Me In St Louis, C) Isaac sings it. Oh yes: Isaac sounds really, really good in this song. I don’t know if it’s the way it’s been produced or if the Old Man has been doing his vocal exercises, but vocally, this song is perfect. However, again I’m having to agree with Kelly that the xylophone really gets in the way and is quite annoying. This should have been one of those ‘less is more’ situations, but Hanson often tend to go for the ‘more is more’ approach.
Isaac Hanson sings Judy Garland, and it's not ironic. 
So...overall, final verdict. I can see why Hanson wanted to make another Christmas record: the fans have been asking for one for years; it was an opportunity to have fun and make music with their children, and last but definitely not least, it was a way to openly express their faith through their music without the risk of alienating fans (something which could have happened by going down the Contemporary Christmas Music way). It’s obvious that the guys enjoyed making this record, and that joy and childhood memories-fuelled excitement about Christmas really comes across in all the songs. It’s clearly what Hanson wanted to do and you can tell that they put their hearts and soul into the project. I can only respect that.

Is this the kind of Hanson music I want? In all honesty, no. Like many others, I still believe in full albums of original music but it looks like Hanson have no intention of recording a ‘real’ album anytime soon. A collection of Christmas songs might cut it for a couple of months, but I can’t see myself listening to this beyond New Year’s Day. Finally, It’s Christmas is fun, uplifting and sounds like a million dollars, but to me it will only ever be a novelty album. Luckily for Hanson though, most fans disagree with me.


Finally, It's Christmas is available from all main music outlets including Amazon and iTunes and Hanson.net

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